Come, ye Sons of Art: A Poem for Cultural Loitering

(I) THE POET SPEAKS

You treat world history as a mathematician does mathematics, in which nothing but laws and formulae exist, no reality, no good and evil, no time, no yesterday, no tomorrow, nothing but an eternal shallow, mathematical present.

Otto Hess, on current economic theory

Who are your role models?
Oh, an eclectic bunch of relics
And hard to circumnavigate:
Sir Thomas Beecham (No, don’t ask)
Groucho Marx, and Harpo.
John Stuart Mill and Dr Johnson.
Jonathan Swift, alongside Saki.
Hogarth, he’s in there somewhere;
Shaw, Wells, Russell, a dash of Blake -
Quentin Crisp and Katherine Mansfield.
Bugs Bunny. Above all: Albert Steptoe.

Kindly give a thumbnail portrait of yourself.
A living fossil, susceptible to flattery.
A cynical and saturnine curmudgeon.
An ageing and eccentric bore.
A decrepit homunculus.
A tortoise steeped in a peat bog.
A polyp in the bowel of material production.
A senescent blatherer of overheard indiscretions.
A gadfly. A Grotesque (and not even Rococo).

Why do you carry on, churning out reams of nonsense?
Because I believe that consciousness is a curse.
Because I believe you have to let me make the best of it.

You wasted your youth on Philosophy and Psychology. Why?
So as to arm me with a lifetime of vaguely ominous platitudes.

You have a certain superficial education.
When did you resolve not to be an accountant, a financier?
Let me see. That would be…when I read the research, showing that economists thought the same way as people with an Antisocial Personality Disorder. “The ramifications of Game Theory”, didn’t you call it?

We noted your self-aggrandising glibness.
Mea culpa! If I’d spotted the gravy train younger, I could have made a flea-sized television pundit for our coffee-table classes.

A puddle of self-love being your defining characteristic: was there no place for you as a fashion designer? An Executive Producer? A celebrity? A sociologist?
Do you know: all of a sudden, I feel quite proud to stick just where I am.

(II) FOR LAUREN

I have to try and think what an artist is, beyond a hooligan who cannot live within his income of praise…
Quentin Crisp

You say you want to meet again, but why?
Could you so much as see, above your foam of
ruthless private glamour?
Don’t speak of “works of love”.
Will you so much as hear my footfall – above the clamour
Of fathomless, stupefying vanity?

(Both verses: May 2007)

Come, ye Sons of Art: A Poem for Cultural Loitering by 


As linguistic and cultural relationism knaws away at the liberal world view (see J’ACCUSE) so there arises a counter-force in behavioural science and economic pseudo-science: Reductionism. One can grind down all human motivation to mathematics, it seems! Just let me get in there and wreck the books. Beautiful Mind my arse…


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